20 Sustainability Learning Resources

FOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN. These are some of the sites where you can learn and dig deeper on sustainability. Whether you’re an employee, business owner, professional, or even executive and career changer, the information available through these sites is priceless. The best part is, most of the resources it’s either available for free or for a small subscription fee.

The resources below provide you with the knowledge, the kind of information that includes things that would affect the sustainability of your business, i.e. climate change, energy efficiency, nature conservation, biodiversity, water efficiency, and more. It is by no means they are the only twenty sources out there. There are literally more than hundreds (probably thousands) sources globally! However, for the purpose of learning, we’re going to start one chunk at a time. It’s good enough to spin your head.

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Sustainability learning resources

FOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN. These are some of the sites where you can learn and dig deeper on sustainability. Whether you’re an employee, business owner, professional, or even executive and career changer, the information available through these sites is priceless. The best part is, most of the resources it’s either available for free or for a small subscription fee.

The resources below provide you with the knowledge, the kind of information that includes things that would affect the sustainability of your business, i.e. climate change, energy efficiency, nature conservation, biodiversity, water efficiency, and more.  It is by no means they are the only twenty sources out there. There are literally more than hundreds (probably thousands) sources globally! However, for the purpose of learning, we’re going to start one chunk at a time. It’s good enough to spin your head.

The learning resources is a combination of information via NGOs, think tanks, governments, international organizations and consulting firms.

So here you go. (By the way, this is not a ranking, it’s whatever comes first to mind).

1. World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

WBCSD is a “CEO-led, global association of some 200 companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development.” They have four focus areas: energy and climate, development, business role and ecosystems. Eventhough, you’re not a member of the organization you can access publications and reports to keep you updated on what’s going on in the business world, from the site. Their featured report is Vision 2050. There are also a variety of tools you can use – like Corporate Ecosystem Review (ESR), GHG Protocol (a coop with WRI), Sustainable Forest Finance toolkit (coop with Price Waterhouse), etc. – and a number of case studies.

2. World Resources Institute (WRI)

WRI is a global environmental think tank. They work on the intersection of environment and human needs. They have four program areas: climate + energy + transport, governance + access, markets + enterprise, people + ecosystems. Here you can learn about impact of U.S. as well as International policies, trends, projects they’re working on, data and statistics, I mean a whole range of information enough to make your head spinning – for good, though. Other sites under WRI include Development Through Enterprise, where you can learn about BOP (base of the pyramid); charts and graphs, a public (free) service that you can use it royalty free in any of your work; Earth Trends for data and statistics; GHG Emission and Climate data for climate analysis tool; ChinaFAQs (the name says it all!); and Sustainable Transport and Cities (check out also CityFix, their blog on sustainable urban mobility).

3. United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

UNEP has six priorities they’re working on: climate change, disaster and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances, resource efficiency and what classified as ‘other thematic areas’ that covers a whole range of environmental related areas, for example biodiversity. When you are here, go straight to their publications, to check what’s new in the world. The latest report they released is ‘Towards a green economy. Pathways to sustainable and poverty eradication,’ a-626 page long. The report links green economy with global growth. They also have a slew of interactive e-books on variety of environmental related topics.

4. World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) International

WWF’s priority work covers area of species, places, impact and issues (from forestry to China growth). WWF produced the 2010 Living Planet Report, which is the world’s leading, science-based analysis on the health of our planet and the impact on our society. One of the resource materials that is interesting is to look at, is their approach to Information and Communication Technologies, when it comes to its future environmental consequences. WWF also work with corporate clients, which means you can read the reports they produced for their business clients. For example, their partnership with Coca Cola, covers water conservation, climate protection and agriculture.

5. McKinsey & Company

McKinsey has two publications that members of the public have access to: McKinsey Quarterly and What Matters (collection of posts, blog like). To get access to their reports, you have to register. It’s free. I’ve been using the site for awhile. They’ve got unbelievable range of coverage from business technology, governance, corporate finance, economic studies, marketing, risk, organization, all the way to strategy. I think the Quarterly has the most information (free) that you can tap to from a big consulting firm. Even though some things are off-limit, however, once you’re registered you pretty much get to access whatever is available for your consumption.

6. TEEB

TEEB stands for “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.” It is a project hosted by UNEP with financial support from the European Commission, Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Japan. (wonder why US is not part of this venture?). This is the place if you want to dig deeper on the issue of biodiversity. Besides their comprehensive reports on TEEB, they also make it available via their newest website, which is more interactive than TEEB that covers a whole range of topic about the economics of it. Properly titled, Bank of Natural Capital.

7. Asian Productivity Organization (APO)

APO is a regional intergovernmental organization that serves as think tank, catalyst, regional adviser, institution builder, and clearinghouse for productivity information for their member countries. Asia is already a major player in the global economy. It is the home of more than one-third of the world’s population. This is the place to get started learning about productivity in Asia. Three things stand out: publications (there’s e-books on green productivity), e-learning (limited access for all and open for member countries), Asian quarterly growth map for data and statistics. Where else can you learn about Knowledge Management for small medium enterprises – for free? And it’s not just KM, but Japanese KM.

8. Environmental Defense Funds (EDF)

EDF is environmental group based in New York. Their areas of focus are global warming, land, water and wildlife, oceans and health. They are the architect behind Walmart’s sustainability program. Two things that you can do here: listen to podcasts and head off to the EDF+Business site. EDF and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business are working together in producing the Future of Green, a series of interviews with experts on the next generation of sustainable business.

9. MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) Open Courseware

Did you know that MIT has put 2,000 courses online for free? It’s free lectures, notes, and videos from MIT. There are 1,360 entries for sustainability on the site, hosted by different departments. Here’s a project that students worked on from Sloan School of Management that falls under the description of Professional Seminar in Sustainability. You can even download the course. Use the search tool to find what you’re looking for.

10. Deloitte

Deloitte has some sort of microsite dedicated for sustainability and climate change. There are six different areas (it’s more on services they offer) to look on: climate change and carbon management, renewables + alternatives + clean tech, water + other natural resources management, energy efficiency + management, corporate responsibility, and compliance reporting. You can dig deeper via case studies and publications.

11. EU Commission on Environment

This is the place where you can learn about EU policies, including Europe 2020. At the present time, they are focus on resource efficiency, that is “using the Earth’s limited resources in a sustainable manner.” Part of EU Commission, Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), showcases eco-innovation from policy to action.

12. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE)

If your business is based in the U.S., you want to bookmark these two sites. It’s where you learn about environmental laws and regulations, compliance, partnership programs, and more. There is 7 different training programs for environmental professionals, from air pollution to drinking water, pesticides worker safety, superfund to watershed academy. For example, the Watershed academy offers more than 50 free, self-paced web training modules, webcasts and training courses in classroom.

For all things energy related, go straight to DOE. There’s all kinds of information on the site that you can learn from from protecting the environment through energy efficiency to making homes more energy efficient, to checking energy prices and trends via Energy Information Administration.

13. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

ACEEE is a non-profit organization based in Washington DC, dedicated to advancing energy efficiency. You can learn energy policies from national energy policy to state energy efficiency policy (you can click from their database to see each state energy policy). Energy efficiency is divided into different sectors: residential, commercial, industrial and transportation. In addition to research publications, there’s also consumer guide to home energy savings.

14. Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future, is a UK based non-profit organization with the mission to promote sustainable development. There’s a subscription and free access. Toolkit to find the business case for sustainability, is available for free. Their magazine, Green Futures (which is part of Guardian Environment Network) is subscription based. However, you can also read current articles, special editions online and reports, free.

15. Stanford Social Innovation Conversations (podcasts)

Part of Stanford Graduate School of Business, Center for Social Innovation. They have a great collection of podcasts, that is updated frequently, on lectures, panel discussions, interviews, and conference recordings. It covers a broad range of topics from social entrepreneurships, environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and more. You just have to pick and choose which-is-which that you’re interested in learning.

16. Conservation International

Conservation International is Arlington-based (VA) organization, whose “vision is healthy blue planet supported by a sustainable, green development path.” Their initiatives range from climate, fresh water, food, health, cultural services and biodiversity. In each field, there’s publications either policy briefs, documents and/or brochures. There’s articles, videos, photos and downloads section. By the way, while you’re there, you can measure your eco-footprint and find ideas on how-to live green.

17. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

IUCN, is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, with more than 1,000 government and NGO organizations and 11,000 volunteer scientists in its roster. The resources include publications, conservation action tools, news, multimedia, statutory and corporate documents, monitoring and evaluation reports. This is the place to learn about all things on conservation of nature. You can download their magazine, World Conservation, free.

18. UNC Center for Sustainable Enterprise

The Center is part of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flager Business School. The CSE Knowledge Bank is a free resource for the public loaded with “scholarly research from UNC authors that covers a broad range of topics on sustainability.” Access is free, but you have to register. From there, you can access all the research papers they have in store.

19. Accenture

This is Accenture’s microsite for sustainability, where you can access its research and insights, videos and podcasts, success stories (by industry: energy, retail, travel, utilities and cross industry), and diagnostics.

20. Pew Center on Global Climate Change

This is the place for all things climate change. Need help to familiarize yourself with climate change? Hang out in this site. You can learn to become expert on the subject. Because it’s here, where you can learn Climate Change 101, in a complete set of six reports to help you understand and respond to climate change. From there, you can dive in to all kinds of presentations, reports, external reports, etc. The best part on the site, is the kids corner, where they partnered up with Nickelodeon to bring a cool, interactive campaign. Namely The Big Green Help.

There you have it.

If you have favorite site/s that you want to be included in the next post on education, please let me know in the comment section.

Author: Dewita

Co-founder Ecotwist Labs.

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